Boracay breaches tourist limit on Holy Week

·Contributor
·2 min read
FILE PHOTO: Tourists at White Beach amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Boracay Island, Aklan province, Philippines, November 30, 2021. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez
FILE PHOTO: Tourists at White Beach amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Boracay Island, Aklan province, Philippines, November 30, 2021. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez

Tourist arrivals in the world-famous tourist destination Boracay Island have breached the government-mandated carrying capacity limit of the island during the Holy Week, according to the Department of Tourism (DOT).

Surpassing its limit of about 19,000 vacationers per day, the island-resort welcomed 21,252 tourists on Maundy Thursday (April 14) and 22,519 more on Good Friday (April 15).

The capacity limit was set by the government after the island went under rehabilitation in 2018.

Meanwhile, the tourism agency said that it has also informed the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) about the issue.

“The DOT has apprised both the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) of the breach in carrying capacity. We continue our coordination with them, especially the DILG, which has jurisdiction over the LGU (local government unit), to address this concern and prevent similar incidents from happening in the future,” the agency said in a statement on Monday.

The surge last week is the highest in two years due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. The province of Aklan, where Boracay is located, is under COVID Alert Level 1 until April 30.

The DOT noted that it would demand an explanation from the mayor of the town on why Boracay’s carrying capacity was breached.

Moreover, tourism secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said that DILG Secretary Eduardo Año will issue a warning to the local government.

"Even pre-pandemic, mino-monitor. Noong pre-pandemic, it never exceeded the carrying capacity kasi lahat ng pumapasok nila-log 'yan," she added.

(Even before the pandemic, we were monitoring [the number of tourists going there]. Before the pandemic, the number of tourist arrivals never exceeded the carrying capacity because all those entering the island are logged.)

While the DOT had anticipated the surge of tourists due to “revenge tourism”, the Department of Health (DOH) said it had noted that several individuals had failed to observe minimum public health standards.

We should always remember nandito pa rin ‘yung virus. Nandiyan pa rin ‘yung mataas na probability, ‘yung risk para tumaas uli ang kaso sa ating bansa (We should always remember that the virus is still here. The probability, the risk for infections to surge is still high),” Puyat said.

From February 2, fully vaccinated travelers no longer need to present a negative RT-PCR test to visit popular tourist destinations such as Boracay.

Pola Rubio is a news writer and photojournalist covering Philippine politics and events. She regularly follows worldwide and local happenings. The views expressed are her own.

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